transparency. when it works and when it bombs.

Someone recently made my Transparency Barometer go ding-a-ring-hell-yay-ring-RING! Baker. Adam Baker. An introduction:

Adam Baker is He’s been here before (read our interview.) He recently posted this: How to Suck at Launching a Product. Whether you give a toss about launching info-stuff on the internet doesn’t matter. What matters is Baker’s thoroughly honest account of his tribulations, emotions, and learnings of being an entrepreneurial human. He bares it. All. And he does so methodically, and with an intention: to be useful.

And this is how I think you truly serve.

First, and primarily, you intend to teach; and then you do so with very thorough and relevant honesty.

(Malcolm Gladwell said it. “Authenticity is the new cool.” Uh-huh. Interesting times we live in, eh?)

At it’s worst, transparency without the intention of teaching can amount to a lot of diarist wanking. Which has it’s place, of course. Voyeurism and art are great lovers, and there’s a deep translation of shared humanness that happens when we get all bloody and exposed in our creations — and when someone else is provoked by our outpouring, or even more profoundly, relates to it, then, well, it’s a divine kind of wow.

But I’m not talking about that sanctity of pure art and self expression. I want to talk about peddling your expertise — the place where plenty of art meets plenty of commerce, in which case:

You need to keep your art focused.
You need to have a point to your story.
If you’re going to get naked, it better be relevant to your mission.


  1. Be on the other side of the dark side.

Which is to say, be on the light side, the logical, happier place when you tell your story.
Do not, I repeat, please don’t “teach” about your personal learning when you’re in the hell of it. Keep your pants on. Get through it first, THEN turn it into a “10 Steps To Survive Hell” presentation. It’s better that way because it’s less about you and more about what you’re offering. If you want to bleed, gather your inner circle or paint it out. If you want to teach, do us the favour of walking us through your steps to awareness, from beginning to end.

  1. Share the actual Big Emotion Moments

If you read Baker’s I-bombed-so-hard story, I bet you’ll walk away with this image that he shares: “On no sleep for three days… at the moment that was suppose to be one of the best for my business… I put my head down and cried.” THAT registers. When I speak to audiences about the day I got canned from my own business, I describe driving home, and having to clench the steering wheel because I was shaking so hard with rage. It doesn’t get more truthful and illustrative then those Moments. If it’s a moment you’ll never forget, it’s a moment that carries resonance for someone listening to you.

  1. Give details

In the drama of sweeping life lessons (which can range from a pet dying, to a fender bender, to bankruptcy) it can be easy to lose sight of the wee nuts n’ bolts that unhinged along the way. But we need to hear some details. Anchor your transparency to some facts and sequencing.

  1. Name names

Talk about the other people involved in your learning (anonymously if necessary.) We fail and we succeed together. We want to see how the people around you were aiding your inevitable wipe out, epiphany, or overnight success. Give us their opinions, their hesitancy, their reasons.

  1. Give yourself credit – unabashedly

Claim your license to teach. You’ve been around the block and you’re hear to tell the tale. You know a few things. In this matter…you are wise.

  1. Go to the trouble of spelling it out

Go to the extra-refined mile not because you’re writing Three Days to Enlightenment for Dummies, but because you care deeply about your audience and you want to be of as much service as you possibly can. Fine points, and how-to’s, and summaries are incredibly respectful and loving.

A metaphor to close out with: A playbook is not the same as a journal. Journals evolve into playbooks. Playbooks are tried and true and have victory and loss to back up each play. Tried. And TRUE. And we all wanna peek at THAT, brothah.

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